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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ra'-moth-gil'-e-ad (ramoth gil'adh; Codex Vaticanus Rhemmath Galadd; Codex Alexandrinus Rhammoth, and other forms): A great and strong city East of the Jordan in the territory of Gad, which played an important part in the wars of Israel. It is first mentioned in connection with the appointment of the Cities of Refuge (Dt 4:43; Josh 20:8). It was assigned to the Merarite Levites (Josh 21:38; 1 Ch 6:80). In these four passages it is called "Ramoth in Gilead" (ramoth ba-gil'adh). This form is given wrongly by the King James Version in 1 Ki 22:3. In all other places the form "Ramoth-gilead" is used.e to the shape of a jaw-bone (Jdg 15:9,14,19). It may have been in Wady es-Sarar, not far from Zorah and Timnath; but the available data do not permit of certain identification.
Here Ben-geber was placed in charge of one of Solomon's administrative districts (1 Ki 4:13), which included Havvoth-jair and "the region of Argob, which is in Bashan." The city was taken from Omri by the Syrians under Ben-hadad I (Ant., VIII, xv, 3 ff), and even after the defeat of Ben-hadad at Aphek they remained masters of this fortress. In order to recover it for Israel Ahab invited Jehoshaphat of Judah to accompany him in a campaign. Despite the discouragement of Micalab, the royal pair set out on the disastrous enterprise. In their attack on the city Ahab fought in disguise, but was mortally wounded by an arrow from a bow drawn "at a venture" (1 Ki 22:1-40; 2 Ch 18). The attempt was renewed by Ahab's son Joram; but his father's ill fortune followed him, and, heavily wounded, he retired for healing to Jezreel (2 Ki 8:28 ff; 2 Ch 22:5 f). During the king's absence from the camp at Ramoth-gilead Jehu was there anointed king of Israel by Elisha (2 Ki 9:1 ff; 2 Ch 22:7). He proved a swift instrument of vengeance against the doomed house of Ahab. According to Josephus (Ant., IX, vi, 1) the city was taken before Joram's departure. This is confirmed by 2 Ki 9:14 ff. The place is not mentioned again, unless, indeed, it be identical with "Mizpeh" in 1 Macc 5:35.
It is just possible that Ramoth-gilead corresponds to MIZPAH, (1), and to RAMATH-MIZPEH. The spot where Laban and Jacob parted is called both Galeed and Mizpah. Ramath may become Ramoth, as we see in the case of Ramah of the South.
Merrill identifies the city with Jerash, the splendid ruins of which lie in Wady ed-Deir, North of the Jabbok. He quotes the Bah Talmud (Makkoth 9b) as placing the Cities of Refuge in pairs, so that those on the East of the Jordan are opposite those on the West Shechem, being the middle one of the three West of the Jordan, should have Ramorb-gilead nearly opposite to it on the East, and this would place its site at Gerasa, the modern Jerash (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, under the word). But the words of the Talmud must not be interpreted too strictly. It seems very probable that Golan lay far South of a line drawn due East from Qedes (Kedesh-naphtali). No remains have been discovered at Jerash older than Greek- Roman times, although the presence of a fine perennial spring makes occupation in antiquity probable. The place could be approached by chariots along Wady `Ajlun, and the country adjoining was not unsuitable for chariot evolutions.
Conder and others have suggested Reimun, an ancient site to the West of Jerash. The absence of any source of good water-supply is practically fatal to this identification. Buhl (Geographic des Alten Palestina, 261 ff) favors el-Jil`ad, a ruined site on a hill South of the Jabbok; see GILEAD, (1). Eusebius and Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word) contradict each other, the former placing Ramoth-gilead 15 miles West, and the latter 15 miles East of Philadelphia. It is clear, however, that this is a mere slip on Jerome's part, as both say it is near the Jabbok. Many have identified it with es-Salt, which is indeed 15 miles West of `Amman (Philadelphia), but it is 10 miles South of the Jabbok, and so can hardly be described as near that river. It is also no place for chariot warfare. The case against identification with Ramoth-gilead is conclusively stated by G.A. Cooke in Driver's Deuteronomy, xx.
In suggesting these sites sufficient attention has not been given to what is said in 1 Ki 4. The authority of the king's officer in Ramoth-gilead extended over the land of Argob in Bashan, as well as over the towns of Jair in Gilead. A situation therefore to the North of Mahanaim must be sought. Guthe would find it at er-Remtheh, on the pilgrim road, about 10 miles South of Mezerib (compare Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 586 ff). Cheyne's suggestion of Salkhad, away on the crest of the mountain of Bashan, is out of the question. Caleb Hauser (Israel Exploration Fund Statement, 1906, 304 f) argues in favor of Beit Ras, over 11 miles Southeast of Gadara, a position commanding all Northern Gilead and as favorably situated as Jerash for chariot warfare and communication with the West of Jordan. "Here we have the heights of Northern Gilead. Ramoth, Capitolias, and Beit Ras are in their respective languages idiomatic equivalents. It is improbable that a large city like Capitolins should have superseded anything but a very important city of earlier times." We must be content to leave the question open meantime.
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'RAMOTH-GILEAD'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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